Experience Outweighs Spartans in Home Opener

Michigan State welcomed the UMass-Lowell River Hawks to Munn Ice Arena for their home opener of the regular season last night and came up short, losing 4-1.

The Spartans came out strong in the first period, but trailed 1-0 after twenty minutes on a goal by River Hawks forward Joe Gambardella.

 “We had control of that first period, but then experience decided to take over,” freshman forward Mackenzie MacEachern said.

 Trailing 1-0, the Spartans looked for an equalizer in the second period, but a lack of energy and consistent play put them down another goal. River Hawks forward Stephen Buco took advantage of an opening in the slot and beat goaltender Jake Hildebrand’s low blocker side, making it 2-0.

 “To become a good team, you have to do things with consistency and you have to be ready to do it at a high level everyday, every time you play,” Michigan State head coach Tom Anastos said. “That’s something we need to learn how to do.”

 In the final period, the River Hawks added a power play goal to make it 3-0, but less than two minutes later the Spartans found the back of the net. Mackenzie MacEachern broke loose in open ice and beat goaltender Connor Hellebuyck high over the glove side, recording his first career goal as a Spartan.

 “It was definitely a good feeling to get the goal, I hope the game went a little different,” MacEachern said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to turn it around tomorrow.”

The River Hawks added another goal later in the third, and skated away with a 4-1 victory.

 “They’re an older team and with that comes strength, physical majority and we’re a very youthful team,” Anastos said. “We need to gain that strength and physical majority, and that’s going to be a process.”


David Defever is the host of Behind the Mask for Impact Sports.

Photo: David Defever